Explore the Middle Ages, a complex and often misunderstood period in European history, through this vivid examination. Details of everyday living recreate the time period for modern readers, conveying the foreignness of the medieval world while bringing it into focus. The volume provides a two-pronged approach to history beginning with a broad sketch of the general dynamics that shaped the medieval experience while at the same time creating a detailed and clear portrait of what life would have been like for real individuals living in specific settings at the time.
The reader is introduced to medieval society in the first three chapters, which include information on the life cycle, material culture, and the economy. These chapters provide an understanding of what people ate, what their social lives were like, what they wore, what kinds of jobs they had, and much more. Following are portraits of life in four specific medieval settings, offering in each case a particular example of the type: the village (Cuxham in Oxfordshire), the castle (Dover), the monastery (Cluny) and the town (Paris). Extensive use of documentary sources from each place sketch the broad contours of the social setting and provide details of the everyday experiences of real individuals. The volume concludes with an exploration of how ordinary people perceived the world in which they lived. Original games, recipes, and music are also provided to round out this rich introduction to life in medieval Europe.